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Stunning mangrove losses in Bangladesh and India

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A Landsat 7 image of Sundarbans, released by NASA Earth Observatory.

Coastline losses in the Sundarbans reaches 200 meters per year

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Coastal development and climate change are eating away at the Sundarbans, the largest block of mangroves in the world, stretched along the coast of India and Bangladesh. In some areas, up to 200 meters of coast are disappearing annually, according to a report from the Zoological Society of London.

The losses are affecting the area’s natural protection from tidal waves and cyclones This will inevitably lead to species loss in this richly biodiverse part of the world, the scientists said.

“Our results indicate a rapidly retreating coastline that cannot be accounted for by the regular dynamics of the Sundarbans. Degradation is happening fast, weakening this natural shield for India and Bangladesh,” said  ZSL’s Dr Nathalie Pettorelli, senior author of the paper. Continue reading

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Global warming could dry up Asian monsoon

A NASA map shows patterns of monsoon rain distribution.

Study shows how warming temps will displace critical high pressure systems

By Summit Voice

Global warming could cause frequent and severe failures of the Indian summer monsoon in the next two centuries, according to researchers with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Potsdam University.

The effects of these unprecedented changes would be extremely detrimental to India’s economy which relies heavily on the monsoon season to bring fresh water to the farmlands.

“Our study points to the possibility of even more severe changes to monsoon rainfall caused by climatic shifts that may take place later this century and beyond.,” said lead author Jacob Schewe. Continue reading

Roads: Crossing the Himalaya

Khardung La is one of the highest passes in the world

A SECMOL volunteer sits atop one of our buses as we wait for the pass to open.

By Garrett Palm

Oxygen deprived, I mistake the older, leather-clad German couple’s “Sprechen sie Deutsch?” as asking if I speak Dutch. I sing a happy birthday song in the wrong language, learned from my mother, which they greet with polite, confused laughter. Continue reading

Travel: Volunteering in Ladakh

Correspondent Garrett Palm finds purpose and friendship in the high country of India

The girls run a normal race after racing with cans on their heads and having a jumping competition. I’ve lived in similar altitude before, but I was soft from living in New York and, even after a month in Ladakh, I was never able to keep up with the kids.

Story and photos by Garrett Palm

In 2009, I flew to Ladakh, India, afraid of the oncoming loneliness and unsure of what I was doing with myself in general in India. My sister, Emily Palm Mulica of Steep Shots, joined me for two weeks in and around the Himalaya, then left for home. I was accustomed to traveling with someone close to me.

I spent my first three days in Leh, Ladakh’s administrative seat, sleeping 20 hours a day in a cold room to recover from a combination of altitude sickness and a stomach bug. When I emerged, I found my guesthouse full of people volunteering and helping out around Ladakh. When they heard I planned on spending a month in Ladakh and was hoping to do something aside from just trekking, they suggested I volunteer at a local NGO named SECMOL. Continue reading

Morning photo: Ladakh, India

Himalayan trek

Angmo’s friends showing off their tea cups at the birthday party. A stereo powered by a generator (where all their power comes from in villages like Tar) played loud Bhangra and Ladakhi pop hits within the fabric walls hung from trees.

Story and photos by Garrett Palm

In the far North of India, in the Himalayan state of Ladakh, I trekked with a group of people from Europe and North America I met volunteering at a local school/NGO, SECMOL. Part of our trek, organized by Benoit, a French Boy Scout and college student, took us through the village of Tar.

At the trailhead to Tar, while we drank apple cider at a small roadside shop, a man and his daughter approached us. The shopkeeper told him we were about to hike up to Tar and he wondered if we could escort his daughter home since he didn’t have time to drop her off himself. We said sure, and soon we were with Sonam Angmo, waving goodbye as her dad drove off on his motorcycle to Jammu. We scared her at first, and she started off only talking to the one girl in our group, Kristen (from Northern Canada).

Tar from partway up the pass out. Further up the trail it became easy to forget such a lush green place could exist in Ladakh.

Continue reading

New report documents melting Asian glaciers

Glaciers in the Himalaya appear to be in a downward spiral, melting under the onslaught of global warming.

Water supplies threatened, flooding risks also growing

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — U.S. Geological Survey scientists recently teamed up with colleagues from around the world to thoroughly survey the glaciers of Asia, and the news is not good for millions of people who rely on runoff from those high mountain zones.

Many of Asia’s glaciers are retreating as a result of climate change, the study concluded. The rapid melting of the glaciers will impact water supplies across huge areas, increase the rate of sea level rise and heighten the likelihood of sudden floods.
In Bhutan, 66 glaciers have receded by 8.1 percent over the last 30 years.  Continue reading

Environment: Web eco-warriors rally for habitat

A web-based conservation campaign helped save critical habitat in India. PHOTO COURTESY ECOLOGICAL INTERNET.

Nonprofit internet provider helps organize international conservation campaign to protect elephant movement corridors in India

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — A loose-knit group of environmental warriors is claiming victory in a long-running battle to preserve important wildife habitat in India.

the Web-based conservation campaign puts a new twist on the old saying about thinking globally and acting locally. These days, with the click of a mouse, activists around the world can send an e-mail, make a donation to a cause or add their name to a petition, even if the cause is a long way from home.

In late November, the Indian government decided against locating a neutrino observatory nearathe Mudumulai Tiger Reserve in Southern India, after receiving more than 100,000 protest e-mails during 2009.

Continue reading

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